Oklahoma Watch will hold a public forum on Tuesday, Sept. 13, about the state question proposing a 1-cent sales tax hike to pay for teacher salary increases, higher education funding and other education efforts.
Featured guests will be Amber England, executive director of Stand for Children Oklahoma, an education advocacy group, and Dave Bond, chief executive officer of OCPA Impact, a nonpartisan advocacy organization and “action partner” to the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.
The forum will be from 6 to 7 p.m. at Centennial Park’s Central Center, located at 1028 E. 6th St. in Tulsa. Oklahoma Watch Executive Editor David Fritze will moderate the discussion. Those interested in attending are encouraged to register online and come with questions.
State Question 779 has become the most talked-about measure on the Nov. 8 ballot. The vote-yes campaign is being led by one of the most storied political figures in modern Oklahoma history – University of Oklahoma President and former U.S. Sen. David Boren. Many educators are backing the proposal, saying the tax is essential now to shore up a struggling education system. Teachers haven’t seen an across-the-board pay raise in eight years.
Opponents include city officials who worry a higher sales tax will undermine their ability to raise taxes to pay for local improvement projects. Conservative groups argue the tax hike is unnecessary because a teacher pay raise could be funded instead through cuts in government spending. The tax hike would give Oklahoma the highest average sales tax rate in the nation.
Is Oklahoma at a crossroads for funding education? Would additional money help improve student achievement?
A series of Q&As and forums on Nov. 8 state questions is made possible by a grant from the Kirkpatrick Foundation.
About the Panelists
Before joining OCPA Impact, Dave Bond was director of external relations for the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a conservative think tank. He was previously director of Oklahoma Policy Solutions, advocating at the Capitol on issues of free enterprise, individual initiative and limited government.
Bond is a past executive director of the Republican State House Committee, the political arm of the Republican caucus of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. He also worked with the campaign consulting firm A.H. Strategies and with Corporation Commissioner Jeff Cloud. Additionally, Bond served in the media and communications divisions of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
Amber England helped launch Stand for Children Oklahoma in 2013, first as the government affairs director, then as the executive director in June 2014. Prior to joining Stand, she spent six years leading policy, political, and communication strategy on the leadership staff of the Oklahoma State Senate and two years as policy and communications director for the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) and program director for OICA’s statewide childhood obesity initiative, Oklahoma Fit Kids Coalition.
England previously served as a program coordinator for an after school program for at-risk students in Johnson City, Tennessee, and a special education teacher’s assistant at Woodland Elementary School in Johnson City Schools. She was also a reporter for The Ardmoreite, covering public education, state and local government, and breaking news. She later transitioned into workforce development with the Southern Oklahoma Technology Center.
About Oklahoma Watch
Oklahoma Watch is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that produces in-depth and investigative stories on a range of public-policy issues facing the state. For more information and to make a donation, visit www.oklahomawatch.org.
The 2016-2017 season of Oklahoma Watch-Out forums is made possible by sponsorship support from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma.